Ranking This Year’s Razzie Nominees

Ranking This Year’s Razzie Nominees (photo)

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It’s been a tradition for over thirty years: the day before Hollywood celebrates its best at the Academy Awards a bunch of fanatical movie lovers gather to roast its worst at the Golden Raspberry Awards. Founded in 1981 by John Wilson, the Razzies, as they’re more commonly known, are dedicated to ‘giving the raspberry’ to the most shameful and soulless travesties the movie industry has foisted upon us in a given year.

Though their intentions to dishonor crummy movies are honorable, like any award-bestowing body, the Razzies don’t always get it right. Literally anybody with $35 bucks can join and vote, which means that hypothetically somebody in the movie business with a chip on his shoulder and some cash to burn could easily buy a couple thousand votes and screw with people he didn’t like (look for more of that story that in my soon-to-be-Razzie-nominated screenplay “Razzmatazz,” coming soon to a discount DVD bin near you).

More problematically, the awards tend to skew towards the inexplicably popular rather than the truly putrid. They went on this weird anti-Sylvester Stallone jag in the 1980s where every movie he made, good or bad, got nominated; “Rambo: First Blood Part II” even won the Worst Picture Razzie of 1985. Now “Rambo”‘s not exactly a masterpiece — okay, so in my book it is, but I know that’s the minority view — but the worst film of the year? That makes no sense, as does the fact that “Rocky IV” was also nominated for Worst Picture that year. That seems to have less to do with Stallone’s movies than some weird vendetta against him as a filmmaker. Did he kill the Razzies’ children or something? Some of their other picks are just head-scratchers: how in the world did “The Wicker Man” lose out to “Basic Instinct 2?” HOW DID IT LOSE? HOW DID IT LOSE? (That was my Nicolas Cage in “Wicker Man” impression by the way. It’s funny when I do it in person, I swear).

So the Razzies, like the films they skewer, aren’t perfect. So how did they do this year? Let’s examine the 2010 nominees for Worst Picture listed (in my opinion) from least worst to worstest worst.

02222011_eclipse1.jpgLeast Worst:
“The Twilight Saga: Eclipse”
Directed by David Slade

A classic Razzie popular-over-putrid pick. “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” like “Rambo,” will never make an AFI Top 100 list. But that doesn’t mean it was one of the worst movies of the year, or even of this series (saga, sorry; I forget sometimes). I suspect there isn’t a lot of overlap between “Twilight”‘s target audience and the Razzies’ voting block (if there was, after all, “Eclipse” wouldn’t make the cut). But again, that doesn’t necessarily place the movie on par with this year’s other Razzie nominees. Clearly this movie does something right — all the marketing in the world can’t sell $700 million dollars worth of tickets if the movie is unwatchable. Director David Slade wrang about as much suspense as can be had from a movie about a bunch of people sitting around in the woods waiting for something to happen (no, this is not a dig at “Harry Potter.” Okay, it totally is). And say what you will about stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner: they have chemistry. Like it or not, that’s what the audiences keeps coming back for.

Worthy of a Razzie Nomination? No. If neither of the previous, lesser “Twilight” movies were nominated — and they weren’t — then this one definitely didn’t deserve to be.

02222011_airbend1.jpgWeirdest Worst:
“The Last Airbender”

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Shyamalan is another Razzie “favorite” — his last three films have all been nominated for Worst Picture and if I had to guess, I’d say this year is his best chance yet of taking home the gold (spray-painted raspberry). His sins this time were legion: his white-washed casting of his adaptation of a racially diverse cartoon series inspired a new term — “racebending” — and the kids he chose for the parts, supposedly because they were the “best actors,” turned out to be charmless duds. Even worse, he allowed his film, which was shot with very shallow focus in mostly dark locations, to be post-converted to 3D which, in its best moments, just looked like a dimmer version of a 2D movie and, in its worst moments, was so murky it was basically incomprehensible. He also tried to cram a season’s worth of plot from the “Avatar: The Last Airbender” series into a single movie, leading to some truly inexplicable storytelling choices, including massive chronological leaps bridged by clunky narration. AND YET! All of these things added up to what I felt was one of the more interesting failures of 2010. Only a director as talented and as powerful as Shyamalan could get away with releasing something this weird, with a story that explains everything except why we should care about anything that’s happening. And that can be fascinating to watch.

Worthy of a Razzie Nomination? In my opinion, no. I would watch “The Last Airbender” again. Not in 3D, mind you, but I would watch it again, even just to study it the way a med student watches a surgery: you get in there with the blood and the guts and you find out what went wrong and what you have to do to fix it.

02222011_vampsuck1.jpgUnfunniest Worst
“Vampires Suck”
Directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer

Writer/directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer are no strangers to the Razzies either: two years ago they were nominated twice for Worst Feature for both “Meet the Spartans” and “Disaster Movie.” They make spoofs — I want to write “They make spoofs, sort of like ‘Airplane!’ or ‘The Naked Gun,'” but that would imply their films were funny like those movies, or that they even contain jokes like those movies, and they usually don’t. No, their brand of “comedy” is based solely on referencing the fact that things exist. They make movies the way McBain on “The Simpsons” does standup comedy: “Did you ever notice how men always leave the toilet seat up? [pause] That’s the joke.” In the case of their latest, “Vampires Suck,” the “joke” is that there are these movies called “Twilight” that teenagers really like in which all of the characters are sullen and pale and kind of dopey. That’s essentially it: Friedberg and Seltzer cast look-alikes, put them in locations that are look-alikes, and occasionally throw in a “Family Guy”-style tangential pop culture reference (“Hey look! People who sorta look like the cast of ‘Jersey Shore!’ In a movie set in the Pacific Northwest! Well they don’t belong there! Isn’t that a goof and a guffaw?”). Still, by the standards of Friedberg and Seltzer’s own filmography, “Vampires Suck” is a bit of an improvement: their lead actress, Jenn Proske, does an impressive job poking fun at Kristen Stewart’s ample acting tics, and there are a couple of genuinely funny jokes in this one. That doesn’t mean the movie’s worth watching, but there are signs this could be Friedberg and Seltzer’s last Razzie nomination for a while.

Worthy of a Razzie Nomination? Yes. Maybe not worthy of a Razzie win, but definitely a nomination.

02222011_bounty1.jpgLaziest Worst
“The Bounty Hunter”
Directed by Andy Tennant

It is hard to imagine the depths of awfulness of “The Bounty Hunter” until you’ve experienced it yourself. From the outside, it looked like another glossy romantic comedy: nothing more, nothing less than a couple of beautiful stars and some crisp cinematography in a high concept story about a couple of bickering exes who fall back in love when he’s sent to bring her to justice after she skips out on her bail. But something went very, very wrong on the way to theaters here. Fundamentally, this sort of movie needs leads with chemistry and Butler and Aniston just don’t have it. They’re supposed to have been married and divorced but there’s no sense of a shared history or even basic familiarity between them; I’ve seen more passionate interpersonal relationships between coffee drinkers and their regular barista. Also: why can’t Gerard Butler just be Scottish in his movies? He’s a fine actor when he’s allowed to use his natural Scottish accent. When you make him pretend to be American, that’s exactly what he sounds like: a Scottish guy pretending to be American. Put these two mismatched stars in a plot that’s all clichés and coincidences and you get one enormous waste of time, a movie both about — and evidence of — the sad lengths Butler will go to for a paycheck.

Worthy of a Razzie Nomination? Absolutely. This movie never aimed higher than forgettable entertainment and wound up doing so little of interest it became unforgettably terrible.

02222011_satc3.jpgWorstest Worst
“Sex and the City 2”
Directed by Michael Patrick King

In what has to be an intentional dig at the film, the official Razzie website lists “Sex and the City 2” as “Sex & The City #2” as if to suggest that this movie is, basically, a big pile of crap. I can’t disagree, and this isn’t a case like “Eclipse” of a guy bashing something that’s simply not intended for him: even longtime “SATC” fans like my wife were horrified by this movie (“Why would they do this?” was her quote, I believe). This second feature film continuation of the popular HBO series about four women and their New York City love lives begins with Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda attending a wedding that my grandmother would have described as ungapatchka, Yiddish for lavish to the point of tackiness: there are swans and an all-male choir and Liza Minnelli performing the ceremony and a carefully choreographed rendition of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” And, really, that wedding is the perfect metaphor for the whole movie, which is ungapatchka to the extreme — garish, petty, and shallow. I recognize there’s an element of fantasy in the fact that none of the four leads ever wear an article of clothing for more than a single scene (somehow they even change clothes in the middle of a camel ride through the desert), but that fantasy must be grounded in some sort of concern for these characters, concern which I lost right around the time the women began complaining how hard it is to be a mother while boozing it up at the most luxurious hotel in the world while their nannies watch their kids for them.

Worthy of a Razzie Nomination? Oh God, yes. And if it wins, I hope the Razzie Award is presented to the film in a knockoff Gucci bag for the occasion.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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